Spiced-Quince Brown Butter Cake

Yup! It’s the season for quince again, apple’s ugly cousin (don’t say it too loud or it might get offended). Most variety of quince are too hard, astringent and yucky to be eaten raw and one in hand gives little hint of the sensuous texture it reveals when cooked, but once they’re gently poached in a simple syrup with vanilla and/or spices … Ahh!.. now that’s another story. Watch out ladies and gentlemen… It will bring out the devil in the kitchen.

Update: I’m submitting this recipe to Mansi’s blog event: A vegetarian Thanksgiving.

Spiced-Quince Brown Butter Cake
(serves 6) Adapted from a recipe by Daniel Boulud


  • 2 large quince, peeled, cored, and each cut into 16 slices
  • 1 cups sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean, split
  • 1 whole clove
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 star anise
  • 3 cups water


  • ½ cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1-1/3 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • ½ cup almond flour
  • 1/3 cup cake flour
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp ground cardamom
  • 4 large egg whites (1/2 cup)
  • ½ tsp grated orange zest
  • Additional butter for greasing the pans

1. To prepare the quince, in a large saucepan, combine the quince and all the ingredients. Cut a round of parchment paper and lay it on top of the quince to keep the fruit submerged. Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat and simmer until the quince is tender, about 1 hours. Let the quince cool in the poaching liquid. Drain the quince pieces on layers of paper towel. Discard the liquid.

2. To make the cake, preheat the oven to 400F. In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter. Continue to let the butter cook until it turn a rich hazelnut brown. Strain the browned butter through a fine sieve into a clean bowl, discard the solids.

3. Sift together the confectioners’ sugar, almond flour, cake flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cardamom. Place the sifted ingredients in the bowl of an electric mixer with the whisk attachment. On the lowest speed, add the egg whites and orange zest and mix. Increase the speed to medium and beat until very smooth. Decrease the speed to low and stir in the browned butter, beat until smooth.

4. Butter a 10-inch tart pan or individual tart pans with a removable bottom or a springform pan. Pour in the batter and smooth the top. Arrange the quince slices on the batter.

5. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the cake is golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely. Remove the sides of the pan before serving because they really don’t taste that good.
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  • Chef E

    Looks good…I rarely bake though…busy with teaching classes and food tours…nice blogs you have posted… -E Chef

  • Alejandra

    OH I love them!! I want to make yours now. Have such a weakness for almond…

  • Manggy

    W..wait!! Why should we feel guilty at all? :) You know how much I love cake. Brown butter cake, then… Yahhrr (drools)
    Hah! Bringing back memories of trying to watch the encrypted channels! I did see some stuff!

  • Emily

    Ohhh, yum. I want one!

  • Clumbsy Cookie

    I so hope you froze me one so I can have it in a couple of weeks!!! Thanks for the playboy info, i thought that was maybe a tiny bit more information that I was expecting, but stil thanks for sharing it. Oh the tip for removing the rind was great, I usually like to keep it, I find it gives things a nice crunch ;)!

  • doggybloggy

    aweet stuff – snicker snicker, (laughing at my own jokes)

  • TavoLini

    Looks good–I like that their individual!

    I’ve never had quince, but your description has intrigued me! Either that or the playboy reference.

  • Peter M

    Oh but it’s true…quince are “tres uglyeuse”!

    I love the combo with almond flour the the slices on top are an aeye catcher.

    See ya soon in NYC!

  • Stacey Snacks

    I love little cakes.
    Never used quince before, I buy quince paste to serve w/ cheese.


  • Jennifer

    This recipe looks delicious! I will certainly be trying it out. And you have wonderful pictures. :-)

  • Bella Baita View

    I like the tartlette pans too, nice size aside from the delicious looking tarts. Do you have any idea why your blog won’t add to a reader or rss feed? Would love to check your blog out sooner that by email as we are 6 hours ahead here.

  • Bella Baita View

    Ok, now I need to retract my last comment(not about the wonderfulness of your tortes). I couldn’t get your blog to be found when I copy and pasted it into to both igoogle and google reader, but whne I tried it from you site, it worked just fine, so problem solved, mi scusi…

  • My Sweet & Saucy

    I love little brown butter cakes…the flavor can’t be beaten!

  • Maggie

    I have to try this with my remaining quince. I get them from my father-in-law’s tree and make jelly every year. I wonder if there is a good use for the poaching liquid? I bet it gets a lot of quince flavor.

  • lisaiscooking

    I’m convinced and ready to try these!

  • Colloquial Cook

    Quoi, j’ai raté ça!! J’en veux! c’est magnifique!Quand je pense que ça ne m’avais pas traversé l’esprit de financiériser les coings… Il est temps que je rentre en France, moi :-)

  • Heather

    Quinces aren’t ugly! They’re the teddy bear to apple’s boring, smooth roundness, and they smell WONDERFUL. I made chutney with mine (I have a tree).

  • Mansi

    wow, those mini cakes look delicious! brown butter cake..aah, I’m already dreaming up a 100 ways to relish it!:)

    btw, I’d love it if you could send this in for my vegetarian thanksgiving recipe event!:)

  • Mike of Mike’s Table

    rofl about the playboy channel bit. No comment 😛

    As for that cake, that’s a beauty. I really need to toy with quince again. This sounds so good

  • farida

    Quince is not ugly, it’s the apple that is ugly:) I love quince. When cooked it has such an irresistible aroma. Love it! Your cake looks fantastic! Yum!

  • Darius T. Williams

    I’ve never had quince before…but because of these pics, I’m thinking I need to totally get into them! This looks good man – good!


  • Anali

    Yum! Looks really good. : )

  • Elinluv

    Looks yummy…I love your blog. Cheers me up with those nice juicy photos :) Thanks for sharing these great recipes on your blog.


  • Chicopea

    How inner-esting. Quince reminds me of a pear that mated with an apple, don’t cha think?

    Very nice Zen, I like how it looks perfectly “carved” out at the top.

  • Gloria

    I really love quinces Zef Chef!!! I have a lovely tree (crossing fingers) that last year give so nice quinces and I made jam and others but these recipes are so nice!!! Thanks, I have towait by March here is the season of quinces!!! and like ever your pictures are really nice!!! xxGloria

  • kellypea

    Just found some quince here so will be making these for a dinner tomorrow. They sound absolutely delicious!

  • glamah16

    Wonderful cakes! Your parents had something on their hands with you as kid , didnt they? But it was just a sign of the great creative talented chef you were to become.

  • Susan from Food Blogga

    These are lovely! As for the playboy tv, well, I hope your mom hasn’t read this post. 😉

  • Nina Timm

    As children we used to eat the quinch that my mom had in the salt water, before she made jellies and jam….I love the idea of the Brown butter cake…..a nice dollop of cream and I am happy!

  • Sylvia

    Wow ! Those cakes looks delicious,nice idea.

  • Adam

    So I wasn’t the only one trying to decipher the fuzzy channels! Haha that was my Da Vinci Code growing up :)

    Nice job on the quince cakes, it looks pretty good looking for an apples ugly brother. Don’t we all have a quince like friend?

  • AndreaDomingas

    This recipe was exactly what I was looking for! This weekend I bought for the first time quince and I wish an uncomplicated cake to use them! Thanks for sharing!

  • Big Boys Oven

    this is so awesome, can be a real party friend!

  • Tartelette

    Quince should be bottled up into a perfume :)

  • Alejandra

    I just made a couple of these following your recipe to bring to my parents house tonight (along with a few other pies and breads and things). Can’t wait to taste them. They look adorable. I halved the recipe and baked in my new mini springform pans. Sooo excited! Happy Thanksgiving!

  • Zen Chef

    Thanks Alejandra :-)
    Hope you liked them. Happy Thanksgiving to you too!

  • http://mortadifame.blogspot.com Morta Di Fame

    Trying this today. We’ll see…
    Yours looks amazing!
    I didn’t have orange zest so I added orange blossom water and I know I over quinced the top…Will let you know!

  • http://mortadifame.blogspot.com Morta Di Fame

    I made this. It had a nice flavor but needed a lot more time in the oven. I think I topped it with too much quince. Quince are tricky little things. Thanks for the recipe!